July 22nd terrorist back in court

Anders Behring Breivik’s lawsuit against the state began March 15

Photo: Rødt nytt / Wikimedia Commons One of thousands of greetings outside Oslo Cathedral after Breivik’s attacks.

Photo: Rødt nytt / Wikimedia Commons
One of thousands of greetings outside Oslo Cathedral after Breivik’s attacks.

Lyndsey Smith & Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

Anders Behring Breivik’s lawsuit regarding prison conditions started March 15, nearly five years after killing 77 people in attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utøya.

He is accusing the Norwegian government of breaching the European Convention on Human Rights regarding areas including having the right to a private and family life and correspondence.

Breivik, who is kept in solitary confinement away from other prisoners, has permission to use three rooms for living, studying, and exercise. His access to the outside world is limited and he meets with any visitors via a partition.

He is also allowed to use a games console, as well as a computer without internet access in order to prevent him from creating an extremist network.

Øystein Storrvik, Breivik’s lawyer, believes the solitary confinement has been extremely stressful for his client.

“One of his main things to do [in prison] was to study and he has stopped that now, and I feel that is a sign that isolation has been negative to his psychological health,” he told AFP.

Doctors monitoring the terrorist allege that he is not suffering from his solitary confinement, however.

Marius Emberland, who is defending the state at the trial, argues that the treatment Breivik is receiving is not violating his human rights.

“There are limits to his contacts with the outside world which are of course strict… but he is not totally excluded from all contact with other people.”

The hearing ran through March 18 and took place at Skien prison, where Breivik is incarcerated, for security reasons.

Breivik believes his treatment breaches Articles 3 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. These regard prohibiting “inhuman or degrading treatment,” and respect of “private life,” respectively.

Breivik’s complaint includes his prevention from contact with other inmates, contact with personal relationships, and having limited contact with prison guards.

The state legal team has submitted papers to the court, which explain that the high security restrictions in place were appropriate given the seriousness of his crimes.

They argue that these are also within the limits allowed under the European Convention on Human Rights.

During proceedings, Breivik offended Judge Helen Andenæs Sekulic and the court, which is specially convened in a gymnasium at Skien Jail for security reasons. He raised his hand in a Nazi salute, though his lawyer Øystein Storrvik had advised him against doing this.

The court session on March 15 also revealed that the correctional service had stopped letters from Breivik being sent out.

These included those written to senior members of the U.S.-based neo-Nazi gang “Aryan Brotherhood.”

State lawyer Adele Matheson Mestad said that prison authorities had blocked some 600 of 4,000 letters sent to or by Breivik.

Judge Helen Andenæs Sekulic told Breivik to refrain from saluting as the case continued.

On the second day of proceedings, the terrorist was allotted a three-hour time slot to share his testimony regarding prison conditions.

Norwegian authorities did not televise Anders Behring Breivik’s statements. This was in order to prevent him from sending any coded messages to supporters and out of respect for survivors and families of the victims.

Breivik spoke of drinking cold coffee and eating frozen meals heated in a microwave. He said that he was suffering from headaches and insomnia.

The 37-year old claims his only way to survive what he claims is the “torture” is by reading Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

“These principles are the only reasons I am alive today,” Breivik told the court at Skien Prison.

Breivik said he should have the right to publish two books he has written, called The Breivik Diaries and The Nordic State. He argued that he was the only prisoner in Europe unable to have his works published.

One of his demands was the right to publish two books, or at least one political text, every three years.

He has required visitation rights for at least five friends or supporters.

Professor of Psychiatry Ulrik Fredrik Malt, who was a witness during the original July 22nd trial in 2012, is following the current lawsuit. He told NRK that he does not see the terrorist exhibiting any signs of damage due to his isolation.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the March 25, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

Norwegian American Logo

The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.